Michigan's "Gang of Four" acts again to protect insurers
The arch-conserviative Justices hand-appointed by Governor Engler years ago struck again on March 7, denying health care providers the right to apply insurance payments to their oldest bills.
In 2005, the four-member majority of the Michigan Supreme Court who have been the greatest activists in protecting insurance and Chamber of Commerce interests, over-ruled 19 years of No Fault law by limiting motor vehicle accident victims and their health care providers to one year in which to sue for payment. Previously, Michigan's Supreme Court had required that suit be brought within one year of receiving a written denial, allowing ample time for injury victims and their health care providers to negotiate payment without suit.
Community Resource Consultants suffered a second blow at the hands of the four extremists: it adopted a policy of applying no fault payments in the order in which they were billed--regardless of how the particular insurer attempted to apply them. The four extremist Justices ruled that Progressive Insurance could dictate how the payments were applied, and that the health care provider could not collect bills that were incurred by the victim more than a year earlier. The three dissenting Justices pointed out that the payment system adopted by the Supreme Court activists in the no fault context was directly contrary to normal "open account" billing and had the effect of stimulating more litigation, as providers and victims are forced to sue earlier, more often, and for smaller claims.